Local Police Seek Community Help in Hunters Woods Death Investigation

At a public meeting on Monday (July 29), local police turned to the community for help as it investigates a suspicious death that happened behind Hunters Woods Plaza in late June.

Local law enforcement and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins met with the community Monday night to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Jose Lorenzo Guillen Mejia, 24, of Reston, was found dead near a walking trail on Sunday, June 24 near a wooded area between Hunters Woods Plaza and Breton Court. Mejia was found with trauma to his upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Remember, the information you have, regardless of how trivial it may be, could be the critical link in solving this case,” according to handouts distributed during the meeting.

Police encouraged anyone with information about the incident to contact the Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800. Tips can be submitted  by calling 1-866-311-TIPS or by texting “TIP187 plus the messages CRIMES.”

Photo via handout/FCPD

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Body Found Near Hunters Woods Shopping Plaza

Police are investigating a suspicious death after a man’s body was found near the Hunters Woods Shopping Plaza.

Fairfax County Police found the body after responding to a call about shots fired around 1:45 am. on Sunday.

The body was found in the woods near a walking trail. No other information was immediately available.

Photo via FCPD/Twitter

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Poll: Which Reston Village Center is Your Favorite?

Now that spring has finally arrived, warmer weather will invite locals outside to mill around Reston’s many shopping areas.

While Reston has an abundance of stores at Plaza America, Reston Town Center and the Spectrum, one of Reston’s unique design elements lies in its mix of residential and retail at its five village centers.

The first one — the Lake Anne Village Center — looks almost the same today as it did in 1976.

Many of the other village centers, though, are undergoing transformations, including South Lakes and Tall Oaks.

The Hunters Woods Village Center, which saw most of its original buildings demolished and replaced with more modern retail in the 1990s, is on a 2017 list of potential spots for new residential development put together by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning.

Meanwhile, North Point Village Center has seen retailers and businesses leave and open. Most recently, a Thai restaurant opened at the village center.

Reston Now wants to know if there is a certain village center you frequently visit or really love going to.

Photo via Courtlyn McHale/Flickr

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Pedestrian Lighting Working Group Returns With Reston Lighting Map

After a year-long hiatus, the Reston Association’s Pedestrian Lighting Working Group made a comeback at the Design Review Board’s meeting last night (March 19).

Working group members Larry Butler, Rick Landers and Bill Burton presented a progress report as a first step toward developing specific lighting guidelines for RA properties and pathways.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ recent call for more streetlights around Reston and some criticism of the lighting at the Sekas development along Sunrise Valley Drive renewed the focus on the lighting, Butler said.

“Lighting is going to be at the forefront for some time to come,” Butler said.

The report highlighted two main goals:

  • development of “contextual application guidelines” for lighting
  • prioritization of pedestrian lighting in the community — common areas including pathways and recreational amenities, transit station areas and clusters

Butler said that the working group is also adopting some guidelines from the Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER).

Burton showed the Design Review Board the Reston lighting map that was created by overlaying existing pathway lights on a new land use map. Burton said that the working group members walked or biked Reston pathways and corridors to note areas of no, low, medium or high lighting.

The map has four main zones:

  • zone 0: areas with no existing lighting for areas where RA wants to preserve darkness
  • zone 1: traditional residential areas — most of the Planned Residential Community — that may want additional lighting
  • zone 2: village centers, brightly lit schools and athletic fields that will need future lighting replacements
  • zone 3: transportation corridor and Reston Town Center

In addition to marking the traditional RA pathways, the map also notes travel corridors along certain roads that bicyclists and pedestrians might frequently use.

The map is meant to serve as a template for the Design Review Board’s review of lighting requests, he said.

Identifying areas that need more lighting is just one step.

“We want to do it right,” Butler said, mentioning LED lights on timers.

Landers added that the technological advances in LED lights provide more options for dimmer or brighter lighting, along with being more energy-efficient.

Vice Chair and Architect Member W. Neal Roseberry praised the three working group members for their effort, which has broad appeal to Restonians. “I think this is really pretty common sense,” he said.

While the Design Review Board supported the map and expressed a desire in making a future action item around lighting, Richard Newlon, the board’s chairman, questioned how much detail should get decided around lighting while still creating an enforceable guideline.

In addition to the progress report, Butler also gave the board a preview on other actions the working group is taking.

A pathway lighting project in Hunters Woods that the Design Review Board approved three years ago now has renewed interest because of a proffer commitment from Atlantic Realty — the developer behind the Hunters Woods at Trail Edge senior living facility — to add new pathway lighting

“We’re working with Fairfax County to get an interpretation on that proffer as to whether or not that money can be joined with our project, our current funding so that we can do lighting down there, because we don’t have enough money to do the whole project,” Butler said.

Butler said that he expects the working group to come back to the Design Review Board in April or May with information on the $81,300 promised in the proffer.

“The face of Reston is changing,” Butler said. “We want to make sure the lighting keeps up.”

Images via Reston Association/YouTube

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Public Art Reston Picks Artist to Transform Colts Neck Road Underpass

The Colts Neck Road underpass will soon get its long-awaited makeover.

Public Art Reston recently awarded a contract to Philadelphia-based artist Ben Volta to create permanent public artwork for the underpass.

When selecting the artist, Public Art Reston sought someone who could “address the spirit of the Hunters Woods Neighborhood; respond to the cultural diversity of the community; and develop an artwork that identifies the underpass as a civic facility within the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood,” according to a Public Art Reston press release.

Public Art Reston’s Executive Director Anne Delaney said that Volta stood out because of his previous community engagement coupled with his powerful and colorful art.

“The project is an opportunity for infrastructure beautification, engagement, education and inspiration,” Delaney said. “It will promote active use of the underpass that links residential areas, Hunters Woods Village Center, two schools, two senior facilities and two community centers.”

Known for his public murals and sculptures, Volta will work on the project with the Dogwood and Hunters Woods elementary schools, in addition to partnering with Hunters Woods at Trails Edge, a soon-to-open senior living facility.

Volta, who is familiar with working with students in participatory art creation, told Reston Now that he plans to engage with kids in the classrooms with the hope of brainstorming an idea, color or shape that will then get incorporated into the art.

Right now, he is working to get the design done before summer break starts for the kids.

He has started making several planned site visits, where he also meets with students, teachers and administrators at the two schools. “I like to start with the site,” Volta said about his artistic process.

While the Colts Neck underpass was “dark with lots of mud everywhere” on his first visit, Volta said he’s been thinking about how the tunnel’s purpose as a passageway between the two schools can lead to a transformative experience for people who enter and exit it.

“Really, the site has a lot to say because of the way people experience it,” Volta said.

Volta said he didn’t know much about the Hunters Woods area before he was chosen for the project, but said he was struck on his first visit by the area’s connection to nature. “I really fell in love with Reston.”

The project has an anticipated installation in the summer so that the artwork will be ready for when students return to classes in the fall, he said.

Photo of Ben Volta courtesy of Public Art Reston

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Cabaret at Lake Anne Plaza and More This Weekend in Reston

What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play — “Come to the Cabaret!” at Lake Anne Plaza.

The performance will be held at the Washington Plaza Baptist Church (1615 N. Washington Plaza). The suggested $10 door donations will go toward the church’s upcoming 2019 annual Christmas concert.

Attendees can also snack on some light refreshments and food.

The show starts at 7 p.m.

Tomorrow (March 16)

  • Family Art Day (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) — Join GRACE for a free celebration of Youth Art Month on St. Francis Street. Families can look at student artwork in the exhibit and participate in art-making activities.
  • Herndon Library Board Games (1-3 p.m.) — Adults can play classic board games at the Herndon Fortnightly Library.
  • Youth Arts Showcase Explosion (6 p.m.) — The Reston Chapter of The Links, Incorporated is set to perform for free at the Kennedy Center.
  • Common Ground: Candice Bostwick & Friends (7-9 p.m.) — You can enjoy jazz and pop music at ArtSpace Herndon for $20.
  • Time Stands Still” (8 p.m.) — Saturday is the last evening to watch the Reston Community Players’ production of a play about a couple making a living out of documenting the horrors of war.

Sunday (March 17)

  • History of World War II (2-4 p.m.) — Dr. Harry Butowsky from George Mason University will present the first part of his six-part lecture series on “World War II: On Our Way, USA 1939-1942” at the Reston Regional Library.
  • Once Upon a Time–Princesses & Lollipops (4 p.m.) — The RCC Hunters Woods’ free annual concert will feature music from Disney movies and theater favorites played by the Reston Community Orchestra. Girls can go dressed up in gowns, crowns and tiaras. The afternoon will include singing, dancing, a parade of princesses, a raffle of two baskets and the presentation of the RCO Community Service award.

Sunday is also St. Patrick’s Day — Reston Now has a separate list of local events in Reston, Great Falls and Herndon.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr 

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Cabaret Singer Beverly Cosham Coming to CenterStage Next Week

Singer Beverly Cosham is set to take CenterStage exactly one week from today for a free show.

Known for her cabaret and theater performances, Cosham will perform songs from the Great American Songbook.

The performance starts at 2:15 p.m. next Thursday (March 21) at RCC Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road).

The show is a part of a joint venture between the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University and Reston Community Center.

Photo via Reston Community Center 

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Latin Dance Group Bringing Show, Salsa Party to Reston Thursday

Contra-Tiempo, a Los Angeles-based dance company, will bring a performance to CenterStage followed by a dance party with the cast on Thursday (March 14).

The urban Latin dance theatre combines salsa, Afro-Cuban, hip-hop and contemporary dance with theater, text and original music, according to the group’s website.

Professional dancers, artists, immigrants, educators and activists comprise Contra-Tiempo.

From the Reston Community Center:

This urban Latin dance theatre experience takes on joy as the ultimate expression of resistance. Whenever humans have survived immense hardship and injustice, prevailing with their humanity intact, the presence of joy has always been at the root. An invigorating blend of physically intense and socially astute performances that push the boundaries of Latin dance as an expressive cultural and contemporary form, Contra-Tiempo brings salsa back to its roots as a mode of expression for the struggles of the working class.

The performance starts at 8 p.m. at RCC Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road). After the show, attendees can learn from the performers how to salsa in the community room.

Tickets cost $20 for Restonians.

Photo by Eric Wolfe, courtesy Reston Community Center

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Peet’s Handing Out Free Coffee and More This Weekend in Reston

Before its opening next week at Reston Town Center, the coffeehouse chain will hold a free pre-opening gathering where locals can get a free cup of coffee from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. tomorrow (March 9).

As part of the celebration, Peet’s will be collecting in-kind donations for Shelter House, a non-profit organization that provides crisis intervention, safe housing and supportive services to homeless families and victims of domestic violence.

Locals can donate the following new and unopened items:

  • diapers (sizes 4, 5 and 6)
  • pillows
  • toiletries
  • pots, pans and silverware
  • $5 Visa or American Express gift cards

In addition to the Saturday event, Peet’s at Reston Town Center (11830 Freedom Drive) will keep collecting donations during the first full week of its opening.

Tomorrow (March 9)

  • Run or walk (8 a.m.) — Lace up your sneakers and join the Reston Runners for either a 3-mile walk or 5-mile run, starting at 11120 South Lakes Drive.
  • Colvin Run Mill During Special Tour (10:30 a.m.) — Go to Great Falls for a hike around the 200-year-old working mill. The “Four Floor Tour Class” involves climbing steep stairs get to spots not seen on the regular mill tours. The tour may last up to two hours and costs $10 per person.
  • Bookworms Club (11 a.m.) — Scrawl Books will have authors Mary Quattlebaum and Joan Waites bring their animal tales, followed by an art project with the authors.
  • Chinese Dance Workshop (2-3 p.m.) — Kids can enjoy a performance by the Xuejuan Dance Ensemble and learn about China’s different ethnic groups at the Herndon Fortnightly Library. Attendees will receive a short dance lesson.
  • Astronomy Festival (6 p.m.) — Head to the Observatory Park at Turner Farm for guided star gazing and listening to ancient stories about the constellations around a campfire. Tickets are $10.

Sunday (March 10)

  • Reston Friends Mystery and Adventure Sale (1-5 p.m.) — get ready to investigate the wide selection of titles available at the Reston Friends Mystery and Adventure Book Sale at the Reston Regional Library.
  • Youth Art Month Exhibit Reception (2-4 p.m.) — Enjoy a reception for an exhibit including Reston elementary school student art at the Jo Ann Rose Gallery.
  • Sunday Afternoon Dance (2:30-4:30 p.m.) — Dancers can do the foxtrot, swing, cha-cha and waltz at RCC Hunters Woods. Tickets cost $5 for Restonians.
  • Sunday Country Western Dance (5:30-8 p.m.) — get your boots on for some line dancing, two-step, shuffle and swing at RCC Hunters Woods. Tickets cost $5 for Restonians.
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Reston Then and Now: Hunters Woods Village Center

Back by popular demand, Reston Then and Now takes a look at Hunters Woods Village Center — the people’s choice with 38.8 percent of the vote in last week’s poll.

Like with some of the other village centers, Fairfax County’s Historic Imagery Viewer shows wild spurts of growth from the 1970s through the 2000s before tapering off.

The center was first approved in 1965 as the second village center, following the success of the Lake Anne Village Center. According to a comprehensive history of the site by Northern Virginia Digital History Archive, the development was designed to be a mix of residential, retail and professional uses that would as one of several village centers that would be just as accessible by foot or bike as it would be by car.

Construction began in 1971, and by 1972, the first stores started opening. The grand opening was celebrated with an Elizabethan-themed fair.

But problems began to emerge for the center within the decade. By 1978, the surrounding area saw robbery rates 25 percent higher than the rest of Fairfax County and a series of sexual assaults in the area diminished the utopian allure. Despite the crime wave, rents continue to go up, and local leaders began to recognize that the development was not as ideal for business as initially imagined.

While the aerial photography showed the site continuing to grow, behind the scenes there were several changes in ownership and — as was the case with other village centers — competition from newer shopping centers across Reston and Herndon that were starting to draw customers away.

By the late 1990s, it was widely recognized that the Hunters Woods Village Center was not the vibrant community hub it had once been hoped to be. In 1997, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a $14 million redevelopment plan.

Between 1990 and 2002, most of the original buildings were demolished and replaced with more modern retail, including Safeway as an anchor tenant. The Safeway is still there, though it recently lost its SunTrust bank. The site has remained largely stagnant since then and changed hands in 2010.

Its addition to a rundown of potential spots for new residential development in a 2017 list put together by the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning means that changes for the site could be on the horizon.

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Mardi Gras Party at Kalypso’s and More This Weekend in Reston

Mardi Gras is next week, and a celebration this weekend at a Reston restaurant wants to get locals ready for the annual carnival.

On Sunday (March 3), Kalypso’s Sports Tavern (1617 Washington Plaza) will hold a Mardis Gras celebration with the Reston Historic Trust and Museum.

Local band Catchin’ Toads is set to perform, and a Mardi Gras mask parade will take place around 6:30 p.m.

The event runs from 4-7 p.m. and has a suggested donation of $20, which will go to the Reston Historic Trust and Museum’s Lakeside Pharmacy Icon Preservation Project.

Tomorrow (March 2)

  • Town Hall on Fiscal Year 2020 Budget (8:30-11 a.m.) — Locals in the Hunter Mill District can attend a town hall at Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center (2709 West Ox Road) to get more information on the proposed budget plan. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, County Executive Bryan Hill and Fairfax County Public Schools staff will give the presentations.
  • Herndon Community Roundtable (9-11 a.m.) — The Town of Herndon wants residents to share their thoughts and ask questions at a community roundtable at the Herndon Municipal Center (777 Lynn Street) this Saturday (March 2).
  • Spring Flea Market (9 a.m.-noon) — Looking for small appliances, books, jewelry, clothing, tools or toys? Find hidden gems to be take home at RCC Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road).
  • Colvin Run Mill During Special Tour (10:30 a.m.) — Go to Great Falls for a hike around the 200-year-old working mill. The “Four Floor Tour Class” involves climbing steep stairs get to spots not seen on the regular mill tours. The tour may last up to two hours and costs $10 per person.

Sunday (March 3)

  • Reston 10-Miler (8 a.m.) — Head to the South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive) for the run. Friday (March 1) is the last day for the regular pricing at $50 before it increases to $55 this weekend.
  • Through the Eye of the Needle II” (all day) — A group exhibit by the Cotting Quilters at the Jo Ann Rose Gallery (1609-A Washington Plaza) ends Sunday.

Photo via Facebook

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Hunters Woods Retirement Community to Add 200 Jobs to Reston

senior living community at Hunters Woods will kick off next week the first of three job fairs for 200 jobs ahead of its opening this year.

Currently under construction near the Hunters Woods Village Center, Hunters Woods at Trails Edge (2222 Colts Neck Road) is on track for its spring opening, Reston Now previously reported.

The IntegraCare facility will have 210 senior-living units — including 91 independent living units, 80 for assisted living, 24 for memory care and 15 for special needs. A temporary office and showroom opened last year at the Hunters Woods Shopping Center (2254B Colts Neck Road) to provide more information.

The jobs range from working with the hospitality to maintenance teams, according to a press release.

Positions are open in the following fields:

  • Resident Wellness: LPN supervisor, medication associate, resident wellness associate
  • Dining Experience: chef, associate, server, porter
  • Hospitality: lead associate, associate, executive associate, laundry associate
  • LifeStages (Activities): life styles associate, transportation associate
  • Maintenance: painting and maintenance associate, safety and maintenance associate

The job fairs will take place:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 26: 1-6:30 p.m. at the showroom
  • Thursday, March 7: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the NOVA Medical Education Campus in Springfield
  • Saturday, March 16: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the showroom

The retirement community will include multiple dining venues, resident gardens, several fitness centers, a juried art gallery and a movie theater, according to the press release.

Rendering by Moseley Architects

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Award-Winning Bird Photos and More This Weekend in Reston

There’s plenty to do around Reston and Herndon this weekend. Audubon enthusiasts can enjoy a recently opened exhibit showcasing award-winning bird photography.

The Audubon Photography Awards Show opened today (Feb. 8) at the Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Drive). The exhibit displays the winning bird photographs from the 2018 Audubon Photography Awards, which were selected from more than 8,000 entries submitted by photographers across the country, along with opportunities to learn more about local birdlife.

The exhibit is set to have a free open house on Sunday (Feb. 10) from 1-3 p.m. where visitors will be able to meet representatives from Nature’s Best Photography, which helped to judge the international competition. Visitors can take part in bird walks and activities, along with enjoying refreshments.

“We were thrilled to be selected as a host site of this amazing traveling show for a second year,” Nature Center Manager Katie Shaw told Reston Now, adding that the partnership with Audubon Society of Northern Virginia has many Reston members who share a passion for “the feathered wonders of this beautiful world.”

The exhibit focuses on the many bird species protected under the 100-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It will run until Feb. 27.

“We know that everyone who comes over to see the exhibit will get a fresh view on a some familiar species as well as an eye opener to species perhaps never seen before,” Shaw said.

Tomorrow (Feb. 9)

  • Handmade Valentine Card Workshop (9:30-11 a.m.) — The Greater Reston Arts Center will lead a workshop for participants to create cards. Tickets cost $5 for Restonians.
  • 10th Annual Fine Art Photography Competition Reception (7-9 p.m.) — Arts Herndon is presenting an exhibit featuring finalists in the annual Fine Art Photography Competition.
  • Bookworms Club! with Sue Fliess (11 a.m.) — Head to Scrawl Books for a book club event for young readers. Sue Fliess will read her new book “Ninja Camp” and others.
  • In Their Own Words: STRETCH curator’s talk” (3 p.m.) — Co-curators Erica Harrison and Don Russell will discuss the process of organizing “STRETCH” and their thoughts on trends in contemporary art practice. The event is free.
  • Ride with Reston Bike Club (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) — Join the Reston Bike Club for a bike ride starting from ArtSpace Herndon’s parking lot.
  • An Evening with Broadway Legend Baayork Lee (8 p.m.) — Lee will talk about her career, the state of Broadway today and her work with the National Asian Artists Project, a nonprofit which showcases works by artists of Asian descent, at CenterStage. Tickets cost $15 for Restonians and $20 for everyone else.

Sunday (Feb. 10)

  • Walk or run with Reston Runners (8 a.m.) — Join the Reston Runners for either a 3-mile walk, 6-mile walk or 10-mile run starting from the Sunset Hills Commuter Lot.
  • Sunday Afternoon Dance (2:30-4:30 p.m.) — Dancers of all skill levels can learn how to foxtrot, swing, cha-cha and waltz at RCC Hunters Woods. Partners are not required. Tickets cost $5 for Restonians and $10 for everyone else.
  • Country Western Dance (5:30-8 p.m.) — Participants can take part in line dance, two-step, shuffle and swing to popular country western tunes played by RCC’s DJ at RCC Hunters Woods. Tickets cost $5 for Restonians and $10 for everyone else.

Photos courtesy of Nature Center 

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SunTrust Undergoing Demolition Inside Hunters Woods Plaza Safeway

The SunTrust branch inside the Safeway at Hunters Woods Plaza recently closed.

The branch at 2304 Hunters Woods Plaza shut its doors on Tuesday, Jan. 29, Hugh Suhr, a spokesman for SunTrust, told Reston Now.

The closure is unrelated to the recent announcement that BB&T will buy SunTrust Banks for about $28 billion, Suhr said.

While the spokesman did not confirm that the branch was getting demolished, a torn apart space and posted permit indicate just that.

Locals can find nearby SunTrust locations at Plaza America, South Lakes and the Safeway in Herndon.

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Nun-Themed Art Show Comes to Hunters Woods at Trails Edge

A Vienna resident’s art show titled “A Bunch of ‘Nun’sense” will bring depictions of nuns and stained glass windows to Hunters Woods at Trails Edge.

The art show “consists of mainly acrylic and ink on large stretched canvas, which includes a variety of styles,” according to information provided by Hunters Woods at Trails Edge.

Jan Dittmar, 68, started painting at the age of 50. A decade later, she earned an arts degree at Columbia College in South Car0lina at the age of 60. She is currently a member of the League of Reston Artists and the Vienna Arts Society.

Locals can view her nun-themed art while sipping sangria and enjoying sweets at the Pre-Opening Showroom (2254B Hunters Woods Village Shopping Center) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 8).

Photo via Jan Dittmar/Facebook

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